TEN STANDARDS OF FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS

During 2001 the EAC developed ten standards of free and fair elections. These were:

  1. Only duly registered electors must vote.
  2. Electors must vote in person.
  3. Each elector must vote only once.
  4. Electors must vote in secret
  5. Electors must vote on ballots that cannot be traced back to them
  6. Electors must vote at polling stations that are reasonably close and easily accessible to them
  7. Every ballot cast must be counted
  8. All ballots delivered to a polling station must be accounted for at the close of the poll
  9. All candidates are entitled to have an indoor agent at each polling station
  10. All candidates are entitled to a copy of the Statement of Poll signed by the Officials and agents at each polling station

Using these ten standards, along with appropriate and relevant indicators, as well as data, reports and confirmed anecdotes from the General Elections of 1993 and 1997, the Director of Elections supervised by the EAC, conducted an assessment of each of the sixty existing constituencies against the ten standards. Compliance with the ten standards of free and fair elections, as a whole, was set 95 per cent.

The main findings of assessment were that for the General Elections of 1993 and 1996:

  1. Free and fair elections occurred in the same 45 constituencies in both General Elections.
  2. The same fifteen constituencies did not reach the level of 95 per cent compliance in both General Elections
  3. The forty five constituencies that were in compliance with the standards were all located in rural areas while the fifteen constituencies that were not in compliance with the standards were all located in urban areas.
  4. The principal issues accounting for, five per cent of less, non-compliance in the forty five compliant constituencies were related to late arrival of Supplemental Voters’ Lists,  uncertainty in the identification of some electors, the location of a few polling stations and questions concerning the impartiality of some presiding officers.
  5. The principal issues related to non-compliance in the fifteen non-compliant constituencies included the matters described in d) plus a wide variety of election malpractices and the fact that presiding officers had been nominated largely by political representatives in these constituencies.
  6. In eight of the fifteen non-compliant constituencies the margin of victory of the Member of Parliament was of such magnitude that no convincing reasons could be given to support the assertion that they had not be elected by a plurality of electors. At the same time there was no question that malpractices had marred their victories. Five of these eight constituencies were won by one of the two major political parties and three by the other.
  7. In the other seven non-compliant constituencies it was not possible to determine unequivocally which candidate had won because the result could well have been the net of malpractices. Both major political parties were in effective control of parts of each of these seven constituencies. There was a five/two split in representation in Parliament of these seven constituencies between the two major political parties.

Before deciding to take action on the findings on the Assessment of the Standards of Free and Fair Elections, the EAC also took account of the following:

 

  • As a result of the actions of the previous EAC, there would be no duplication of electors on the Voters List for elections. Each applicant for registration to be an elector had to be photographed and fingerprinted. The fingerprints of each applicant had to be cross-matched against every other applicant in Enumeration of 1997 and that of all applicants in the Continuous Registration implemented in 1999 had to be cross-match against each other and against previous electors.

 

  • The Constituted Authority, established by the previous EAC, had the power on Election Day, to halt the election in any polling station, Electoral Division or Constituency if certain conditions, specified by law, had been breached.
  • Ten days following Election Day based on petitions from losing candidates, or on reports from the Director of Elections, the Constituted Authority could carry out investigations and recommend to the Election Court that an election in a polling station, Electoral Division or Constituency be voided and run again. Further this process could be repeated until the Constituted Authority was satisfied that a fair result had been obtained.

 

 

Based on all of the above the corrective actions taken by the EAC in preparation for the General Election that was held on October 16, 2002 were as follows:

 

  • There would be no Supplementary Voters List published prior to an election. As specified by law only two Voters List would be published each year. Only voters who registered on or before the prescribed cut-off date and whose names were on the Published Voters List would be eligible to vote in any election that was called.

 

  • Political representatives in each constituency and electoral division would participate in the transparent of applicants to the registered as electors as well as in the preparation of Voters Lists.
  • In addition of the Presiding Officer, the Poll Clerk and in-door agents of candidates would be provided with a Picture Version the Voters List for that polling station as an aid to the identification of electors. These Picture Versions of the Voters List for polling stations were distributed to Poll Clerks and In-Door Agents for Candidates at the start of polling; could not be taken out of polling stations; and were collected at the close of the poll.
  • Based on EAC Guidelines, applied in each constituency, polling stations locations would be agreed for a two-year. All elections during this period would be conducted at these locations.
  • There would be a special and transparent EAC led process to recruit impartial Presiding Officers and Poll Clerks followed by enhanced training and new rules of deployment to their assignments to polling stations on Election Day
  • Following Nomination Day Selected Members of the EAC would meet with all duly nominated Candidates to remind them of the laws governing elections and inform them of the measures that had been taken to ensure free and fair elections.
  • The three Selected Members of the EAC would seek to meet individually with the Members of Parliament and Campaign Managers of the eight non-compliant constituencies described in f) above. At these meeting the three Selected Members would present the evidence of the malpractices that occurred in their constituencies in 1993 and 1997. The Selected member would point to the tarnish that these malpractices had put on the candidate’s victory, as well as to the damage of their personal reputations, that of their parties and of the country. The Selected Members would seek to obtain the commitment of these Members of Parliament, and their Campaign Managers, to take corrective actions for the upcoming General Elections. {It must be noted that the Selected Members succeeded in having meetings with seven of the eight MPs and their Campaign Managers. All made and carried through on their commitments to eliminate the malpractices identified}.
  • For the seven constituencies identified in g) the Director of Elections would write to all duly nominated candidates immediately following Nomination Day. In that letter the Director would bring to the attention of these Candidates malpractices that had occurred in their constituencies in 1993 and 1997. Further, these candidates would be informed that if such malpractices recurred recommendations would be made to the Constituted Authority to void and re-run the election in that constituency. No candidate would be allowed to win unfairly, and any candidate who engaged in malpractices and lost need not seek the assistance of the Constituted Authority because ‘he who comes to the bar of justice for equity must come with clean hands’. The Director of Elections wrote such a letter to each of the 20 Candidates duly Nominated in 2002 in these seven constituencies.
  • To ensure that the latter was no bluff, the EAC sought and received from the United Nation assistance for a team of experienced investigators from the British Commonwealth to work along with local investigators, thus guaranteeing that all reported malpractices would be thoroughly and speedily investigated to allow the Constituted Authority to act in timely manner if necessary.

 

 

The details of Monthly Meetings of Political Representatives and their inclusion in the preparation of voters’ lists; obtaining two- year Polling Station Agreements; and the Special Recruitment of Election Day Workers are reported as separate innovations.

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